I Miss The Urban Flow Community So Much!
By Peter Walters
I’ve been holding this in for a long time, but I think it’s finally time to say it…
I MISS THE URBAN FLOW COMMUNITY SO MUCH!
While traveling this past year in India — I was sitting in a cafe in Dharamsala, sipping a chai and checking the interwebs, when I got an email saying that my second home — our sanctuary — was closing its doors. After the initial shock had worn off, I wondered what would happen to our enormous community of yogis — BHAKTIS — who would be displaced.
I should begin this piece by saying that there are so many amazing studios in and around San Francisco (many of which I am fortunate enough to teach at), with some of the best teachers IN THE WORLD. We are really so, so lucky to be here and have the privilege of practicing with truly visionary teachers…but… that huge, loving, hugging, sweating, laughing, crying community of beautiful Bhaktis is now dispersed all over the city! And it makes me quite sad.
Part of the work and practice for the yogi is non-attachment or non-grasping — Aparigraha. I’ve learned a lot about this concept over the past few years through my daily work and practice on and off the mat, in and out of my relationships with everyone I encounter. Letting it be okay that Rusty has left the city, that Urban Flow is no more, that “stock prices will rise, and politicians will philander.” Change is ultimately the only constant that we can rely on in life. And that’s ok. We practice saying, “Ok, well, that’s too bad, but thank you for all of that. Now let’s move on and begin again.”
...but… I can’t shake this feeling of missing the hugeness of that community we had all created together! Rusty was the spark — the founder and leader of UF, but really it was us — students, teachers and staff — who created, and continue to create Sangha — community. I think Rusty would be one of the first to admit that it wasn’t about any one person at Urban Flow. It was about US — all of us — and that means ALLLLL of us — those who graced the studio floor, and those who don’t even know what yoga is! We did the work for everyone who couldn’t — for all beings everywhere. You remember the prayer, don’t you?
And now here we are, just stepping into 2016 with so many incredible, open-hearted Bhakti yogis and teachers distributed around the Bay, sharing our own expressions of the practice — with humility, gratitude, grace, chanting and devotion through our practice and teaching of Bhakti Yoga, just as it was offered to us, with new personal twists…but… we’re all apart! Fragmented communities of open-hearted lovers of life and breath! Yoga Flow SF (Ocean and Union!), Yoga Tree, The Pad Studios, Glow Yoga, Asta, Cardio-Tone, Flying Studios, Yoga Garden— just to name a few — our community is spread…too far and wide. Sure, it’s great to support these awesome studios, our friends and colleagues — and you should continue to…but I miss having one roof to really call hOMe. I can hear each of my dear studio owners and managers saying “but OUR studio is Home!” — to which I respond, yes, but not quite.
I don’t know about you, but I miss being with 200 people, barely inches apart, sweating all over each other, singing at the top of our lungs, and feeling like I AM love! That is what our community taught me: to BE love. To teach and practice with my heart first… to recognize that the poses are just tools to help us tap into something far more essential that body alignment. To represent what love means on a cellular level, and expand outward and share it with everyone around, with words, glances, hugs, or just big, knowing smiles that impart the significance and power of this very sacred practice. And many of my friends and colleagues are doing this at their respective ‘home’ studios. But I think we can do this bigger!
My hope and aspiration is that we can bring this community back together, inviting in everyone that we can — with a space that can contain all of us — even bigger than Urban Flow V1! It won’t be the same of course, and that’s okay. It’s time to build something new, different but equally massive and loving — full of Kirtan, chanting, powerful, vigorous, intelligent, soulful vinyasa and open-hearted people, working on becoming better humans, checking the egos and stories at the door. That’s what it’s all about for me. I like this idea that I’m already complete and ‘imperfectly perfect,’ but I also recognize that I have work to do on many levels. I have experiences, traumas, heartbreaks, body-aches, injuries, memories and ultimately suffering that still need to be worked through, and worked out — and I know you do too (*see the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism).
The yoga mat has become my sanctuary, but it is the community that gives me refuge and the super powers and space to explore the full spectrum of my physical, emotional and spiritual experiences of the world in this human form. I feel loved. I feel embraced and embodied by each of you in different ways. I love feeling so much — and I miss its full expression that I got whenever I walked into that studio we each called Home.
I hope that we can reignite the Bhakti in San Francisco in new and enormous ways. I’m prepared to lead the charge, though we will need a lot of support (time, money and heart, mostly if anyone has the means) — but I do have the will, and as I relearn each day, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ — or at least auspicious encounters and connections that make everything seem to unfold perfectly!
Urban Flow, Rusty, Neil, Adam, Wah!, Josh, Stephanie, Brad, Cristen, Nat, Jamie, Leila and so many more of you inspired me and opened my eyes to the wonder that is Bhakti Flow Yoga. And the only way I feel as though I can begin to repay my debt of gratitude is to help recreate, and reignite a big fire of sorts that pulls all of you Bhakti yogis back together once again. Enough fragmentation. We will find the perfect, central location for a new Home where we can all fit and sweat together. Maybe we’ll take baby steps, and start with a yoga playdate in a park with everyone in our community.No egos. No drama. No dogma. Open to everyone, regardless of income. Just quality, loving, heart-filled Bhakti Flow Vinyasa Yoga. Because Yoga IS for everyone, as Rusty often reminds us.
Will you help me reignite the Bhakti flame in San Francisco!? If you have some ideas, money, huge real estate/connections, or want to help lead the charge, please email me. I think what I’m trying to say is that I want to open a really huge Bhakti Flow Yoga studio, with the grace of our dear teacher, Rusty Wells, and the help from a bunch of Bhakti friends…maybe it will happen sooner rather than later. Because I miss the heart of yoga that once pulled me in.
There are hundreds of Bhakti Flow Yoga teachers in San Francisco…in fact, too many to list, and too many that I would accidentally leave out. So I’ll leave it to you to find them. I know you will. You can find many of us at the studios I mentioned above.
Thanks for reading, and keeping this practice and community so close to your heart.
I’m excited for the next few years and what we can create. Please help…it will take our entire community, a lot of capital, a number of committed people, and tons of Prana to build this.
Let’s do it!
Be love. Be kind.
Peter, a Beginner.